Will Instagram Direct Kill Snapchat?

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First of all, let’s rewind the tapes — last month, Snapchat turned down a $3 billion acquisition deal from Facebook. $3 billion!  According to several sources tapped by Wall Street Journal, the young company was waiting for a new round of funding and hoping it would bump up their valuation to well over 3 billion. Fast forward a month and Snapchat did indeed secure a new round of funding — $50 million in Series C from Coatue Managment, according to VentureBeat. This is significantly lower than the $2oo million Snapchat was seeking, according to reports.

In the same time period Snapchat spent fundraising, Facebook developed an entire new functionality — one that directly rivals the company they tried to acquire for $3 billion. Instagram Direct was unveiled on December 12, and, with its sleek design and beautiful user interface, this one feature is giving Snapchat a run for its money.

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In fact, it’s worth asking: What does Snapchat have that IG now does not? A vague points system? No one seems to know how that Snapchat feature is evaluated, and those who do question it’s benefits to users. While Snapchat reports insane metrics like 400 million daily uploads, with Facebook’s check mate and meager Series C funding results, 2014 — a year that once seemed Snapchat’s to claim — very well might be the year Snapchat dies. In other words, thoe young execs should have spent a bit more time considering that $3 billion offer.

So, long live Instagram? Let’s evaluate the differences between the two functionalities. With Instagram Direct, only the people on IG who you already follow can send you a direct photo, whereas on Snapchat, anyone can send you a photo — you just have to accept delivery. If you are not following their account, all you have to do is send a simple request which can be denied or accepted. IG allows this stranger spamming to happen once, allowing users to permit non-followers to send messages on a one-off basis. The only seeming restriction of IG Direct is that only 15 users can receive a single transmitted image (so, no, you can’t sent photos of your cat directly to all of your followers — that’s what your feed is for). The strongest aspect of IG Direct is its organization; you can keep all of your direct files in a dedicated inbox, which keeps your normal public-facing photos and private, direct account separate.

Here is the official press release from Instagram




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Topher Kelly is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and editor at CreativeLive. Follow Topher on Twitter@Topher_LIVE.